Can You Change the Color of a Gunite Pool

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Dreaming of an aquamarine oasis right in your backyard?

If your standard white gunite pool has you bored, you may be wondering if resurfacing is your only option for a color change. With a plaster pool, tinting may be simple, but can you transform the look of a gunite shell without breaking the bank?

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to change your gunite pool’s color. You’ll learn about limitations, prep work, costs, and the different processes for staining or painting. With some products and elbow grease, injecting some personality into your outdoor oasis is possible.

By the end, you’ll know whether to take the DIY route or call in the pros. With the right information now, you can avoid disappointment and make the most of your investment later. Don’t settle for a pool that’s depressing. Revive it with color instead!

Can You Change the Color of a Gunite Pool

Yes, gunite pools, which are constructed by spraying a mixture of concrete and sand onto a steel framework, can indeed have their color changed. The process involves resurfacing the pool with a new layer of plaster that comes in various colors.

This plaster layer not only provides a fresh look but also can change the pool’s color to your desired shade. Keep in mind that over time, pool plaster can deteriorate due to chemicals, weather, and usage, so changing the color periodically might be necessary.

It’s recommended to consult with pool professionals to ensure proper resurfacing and color application for the best results.

Why Change the Color of a Gunite Pool

Changing the color of a Gunite pool can offer several benefits and motivations for pool owners. Here are some reasons why people might choose to change the color of their Gunite pool:

  • Aesthetic Enhancement: One of the primary reasons for changing the color of a Gunite pool is to enhance the pool’s overall aesthetic appeal. Over time, the original color of the pool may fade or become outdated. Changing the color can give the pool a fresh and modern look that complements the surrounding landscape or the homeowner’s preferences.

  • Personalization: Pool owners often want to personalize their outdoor spaces to reflect their style and preferences. Changing the color of the pool allows them to create a unique and customized environment that aligns with their design vision.

  • Home Renovations: When homeowners are undertaking broader home renovations or landscaping projects, they might choose to change the pool’s color to match the new design theme. This cohesive approach ensures that the pool seamlessly integrates with the overall aesthetic of the property.

  • Property Value: A well-maintained and visually appealing pool can contribute to the overall value of a property. Changing the pool’s color can be a strategic move for homeowners looking to increase the resale value of their home.

  • Repair and Maintenance: In some cases, changing the color of a Gunite pool might coincide with necessary repairs or maintenance. If the pool’s surface has deteriorated over time due to wear and tear, changing the color as part of the resurfacing process can provide both an aesthetic upgrade and functional improvement.

  • Event Hosting: Homeowners who frequently host social events, parties, or gatherings around their pool area may want to change the pool’s color to create a specific ambiance or theme for different occasions.

  • Trends and Fashion: Just like interior and exterior design trends, pool design trends also evolve. Changing the pool’s color can be a way to keep up with the latest design trends and maintain a contemporary look.

  • Refreshing the Space: Sometimes, homeowners simply want to refresh the visual appeal of their pool area without making major changes. Changing the pool’s color can achieve this without the need for extensive renovations.

Prep Work Before Changing the Colour

Taking the time to address surface issues and properly prep the pool will help the new paint job achieve maximum durability and longevity. The goal is to provide the painters with a clean, porous, neutral colored surface free of defects so they can achieve the most uniform and longest-lasting paint finish. It’s worth the effort to do it right from the start.

  • Cleaning: The entire pool surface needs to be thoroughly cleaned using a pressure washer to remove any dirt, debris, algae etc. A degreaser may be needed to remove any oily residues.

  • Algae/Mildew Treatment: Any existing algae or mildew needs to be killed off with a specialty treatment prior to painting. Otherwise it can eventually grow back under the paint.

  • Remove Old Paint: Any existing pool paint needs to be completely removed and stripped down to the bare gunite. Chemical strippers or abrasive blasting may be necessary depending on the old paint type.

  • Check Surface Porosity: The gunite should absorb water evenly. Any slick or non-porous areas may need special etching or sanding to improve adhesion.

  • Fill Low Spots: Low areas or voids need to be filled with a patching cement or resurfacer so they don’t show through the new paint.

  • Smooth Rough Textures: Using a grinder or sander, any significant rough spots or protrusions should be smoothed to ensure a consistent painting surface.

  • Check for Hollow Spots: Tap the surface and listen/feel for any hollow or delaminated areas that require repair before painting.

  • Crack Repair: To prevent cracks from bleeding through, they need to be chased using a Dremel to open them up prior to patching and filling.

  • Mask Surfaces: Any areas not being painted should be masked off, such as tile, lights, main drains and fittings.

  • Etching: An acid wash is used to lightly etch and roughen up the surface to improve paint bonding. Muriatic acid is commonly used, diluted to a 10:1 ratio with water. It’s applied and then thoroughly rinsed off.

  • Drying Time: The surface must be allowed to completely dry following cleaning and etching before painting. This usually takes 24-48 hours if conditions are warm, dry and sunny.

Gunite Pool Coloring Options

Changing the color of a Gunite pool involves several methods, each with its own benefits, considerations, and procedures. Here’s are the different ways to change the color of a Gunite pool:

Pool Paint

With the right expectations, pool paint can provide an affordable way to give a gunite pool a quick color makeover that lasts. Hiring an experienced pool company will help ensure proper application and curing.

  • Paint Type: Epoxy-based pool paints provide the most durable and long-lasting finish. Some contain reflective pigments to help resist fading. Chlorinated rubber and acrylic paints don’t last as long but are more affordable.

  • Color Choice: Pool paints come in every color imaginable – from bright bold hues to more subtle earth tones. Lighter and brighter colors help the pool look bigger. Darker blues and grays can create a more sophisticated look.

  • Application: Pool paint can be applied using rollers, brushes or a spray system. Two coats are usually recommended, allowing proper drying time between coats. A paint prep product helps with adhesion.

  • Dry Time: It’s crucial to allow the paint to cure fully before filling the pool, usually 5-7 days. Chlorine levels should be kept low initially to prevent premature fading. Proper prep and application will allow the paint to last 1-3 years.

  • Cost: Pool paint is one of the most budget-friendly options for changing a pool’s color. The paint itself ranges from $100-500 depending on quality and color. With prep work and labor, expect a total cost of $1,500-3,000 on average.

Colored Plaster

Colored plaster resurfacing can provide a much longer-lasting color change compared to paints. The process requires more time and money but creates a beautiful new look for years before needing to be redone.

  • Plaster Options: Plaster for pools comes in natural white as well as a variety of colored aggregate blends in hues like blue, gray, tan, and green. Different sizes and types of aggregates create unique looks and textures.

  • Surface Prep: The pool surface must be cleaned, etched, and retarded to remove old finishes and create a textured profile for the plaster to bond to. Any repairs should be done beforehand as well.

  • Application: Plaster is troweled onto the surface by experienced pool plasterers. It is important to keep the application consistent for an even appearance. The plaster cures and hardens completely over several days.

  • Longevity: Colored plaster can last 5-10 years with proper care before needing to be resurfaced. Maintaining proper water chemistry helps prevent etching and scaling which degrades the finish.

  • Cost: Plaster is more expensive than paint but less costly than tile or pebble. Expect to pay $4,000-$8,000 for a standard sized residential pool. Extensive surface prep adds to the cost.

  • Draining Required: The pool must be completely drained for the plaster application process. It usually takes 2-3 weeks before the pool can be safely refilled.

  • Color Considerations: Lighter plaster colors show flaws more easily. Bolder colors can be harder to match for repairs later. Going for a more subtle, mottled finish can help hide imperfections.

Pebble Finish

A pebble finish definitely creates a unique, upscale look for a pool but requires a bigger investment upfront. When done correctly by an experienced pool company, it can provide years of beauty and enjoyment.

  • Pebble Options: Pebbles come in a variety of natural colors like white, tan, gray, brown, red, green and blue. The pebbles are hand-selected and sized between 1/4″ to 3/8″ in diameter.

  • Application Process: After plastering the pool, the pebbles are lightly tossed or broadcast into the wet plaster surface where they stick and are then troweled in. This creates a natural layered, textured look.

  • Texture and Depth: The pebbles give the surface more texture and make the pool colors look multi-dimensional and sparkle in the sun. The plaster beneath impacts the overall hue.

  • Cost: A pebble finish costs about 25-50% more than standard plaster. The material cost is higher and the application is more labor-intensive. Overall expect to pay $6,000 to $10,000.

  • Longevity: When properly cared for, a pebble finish can last 10-15 years before needing to be redone. Regular brushing and maintaining water chemistry is important to avoid damaging the finish.

  • Drawbacks: The texture can make surfaces harder to clean. Improper application can lead to pebbles falling out down the line. Repairs are also more noticeable.

  • Best Candidates: Gunite pools with rough surfaces or repairs benefit from a pebble finish disguise. Concrete/fiberglass pools are not suitable and need a bond coat first.


Tile provides the greatest flexibility for completely transforming the look and color of a pool. The higher upfront investment pays off in the long run with a highly durable and custom result.

  • Tile Options: Pool tile comes in a huge variety of sizes, shapes, colors, textures and patterns. Ceramic, porcelain, glass and natural stone tiles are commonly used. This allows for lots of design flexibility.

  • Tile Location: Tile can be installed on the waterline, steps, benches, fountains, spillways and other accents. Or, it can completely line the pool floor and walls for a full redesign.

  • Installation: Proper tile prep and installation is crucial for safety and durability. The tile needs to be firmly bonded to the surface with thinset adhesive. The joints between tiles are then grouted.

  • Cost: Tile is generally the most expensive finish option for pools. Material costs depend on the tile type and design complexity. Labor and installation also adds significant cost.

  • Ongoing Maintenance: Tile needs periodic regrouting and may need replacement of damaged tiles over time. Calcium deposits must be properly removed to avoid buildup.

  • Ideal Candidates: Tile works best on newer or newly resurfaced pools in good structural condition. Older pools may need repairs and re-plastering first to create a smooth surface.

  • Duration: Tile can last well over 10 years with proper installation and care. Handling the freeze-thaw cycles is one of the main limits on longevity in colder climates.


With the right expectations, pool stains can provide an affordable way to refresh a pool’s color for shorter-term color change. Hiring a pool pro ensures proper application.

  • Stain Options: Pool stains come in a range of translucent hues like blue, green, gray and tan. Stain penetrates the plaster to tint it without coating the surface.

  • Application Process: The plaster surface is cleaned and acid washed first. The stain is then applied with a sprayer or roller in careful, even coats. Multiple coats may be needed for darker colors.

  • Cost: Pool stains range from $100-$500 depending on the product and color. Labor costs are minimal compared to other options since little surface prep is required. Overall costs start around $500-1000.

  • Durability: Stains chemically bond with the plaster so they won’t chip or peel. However, the color will gradually fade over 1-3 years before needing to be reapplied. Staining lasts the longest in shaded areas.

  • Limitations: Stains can’t fully cover very light or very dark existing plaster colors. Some variation between the original and new color is to be expected.

  • Other Considerations: The plaster surface must be in good condition for proper stain absorption. Staining the pool floor may eventually lead to a splotchy appearance as the color fades.

  • Ideal Uses: Stains work best for quick, subtle color changes to existing plaster without the cost of major renovation. They help extend time between plaster refinishing.

Best Gunite Pool Colours

Some of the most popular and best color options for gunite swimming pools are listed below. Consider the setting, landscaping, architecture and your overall aesthetic tastes when choosing a gunite pool color for maximum enjoyment.

  • Light Blue: A soft, pale blue is a classic pool color that remains popular. It has a cool, tranquil look and makes the water appear crisp and clean.

  • White: A white or light gray plaster is elegant and provides a contemporary look. It makes the water appear bright blue and requires vigilant maintenance.

  • Dark Blue: For a sophisticated appearance, a dark blue plaster mimics the deep tones of the ocean. It can use more blue aggregate to really make the color pop.

  • Aqua/Tropical Blues: Vibrant aqua blue plasters evoke tropical seas and pool resorts. The bright color is energizing and inviting during the day.

  • Tan/Earth Tones: Plasters in warmer beige, brown and tan hues blend well with natural landscapes and complement Mediterranean style homes.

  • Black: Striking and dramatic, black plaster gives pools an edgy, modern vibe. It works best with water features and tile accents.

  • Green: Unique green pastel colors range from soft seafoam to deeper emerald shades. Green needs the right surrounding environment.

  • Aggregate Finishes: Mixed aggregates like pebble, quartz or glass beads add texture and depth. The base plaster color remains visible.

Caring for Freshly Colored Surface

With proper initial care, the pool’s refreshed color should last for years to come. Here are some tips for caring for a newly colored gunite pool surface:

  • Follow curing times: Don’t fill the pool until the manufacturer’s recommended curing time has passed to allow paints, plaster or other finishes to fully set and harden. This is usually 5-7 days.

  • Fill slowly: When it’s time to fill the pool, do it slowly over several days. This allows the new finish to adjust to being underwater gradually.

  • Hand-brush: Gently hand-brush the new surface daily to prevent staining or scale buildup during the initial fill. Do not use automated cleaners yet.

  • Run filtration system: Running the filter regularly will help keep the water clear as the pool fills. Backwash frequently to remove any debris.

  • Maintain water chemistry: Keep water balanced, paying close attention to pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness and sanitizer levels per the finish manufacturer’s guidelines.

  • Limit use: For the first 2 weeks, use of the pool should be limited to allow the finish to set. No roughhousing or throwing toys that could scratch it.

  • Delay additives: Hold off on adding clarifiers, stain removers or other pool chemicals until the surface has fully cured.

  • Apply sealer: Using a finishing sealer recommended for that specific pool surface provides an added layer of protection.

How Long Will the New Color Last

How long a new pool color will last depends on several factors:

  • Surface material: Paints tend to last 1-3 years, plaster 5-10 years, and tile 10+ years when properly cared for. Pebble and quartz finishes fall somewhere in between.

  • Use and maintenance: Higher use pools need recoloring more often. Staying on top of chemical balances, cleaning, and general wear & tear make a big difference.

  • Climate and sun exposure: Pools in hotter, sunnier locales or with extensive sun exposure may need recoloring sooner as the UV rays fade the surface.

  • Quality of application: A top quality installation by an experienced pool company using premium materials will last significantly longer than a discount job.

  • Sealers: Using sealers formulated for the specific pool surface provides an extra protective barrier that can extend the life of the finish.

  • Color choice: Solid, darker colors tend to last longer than light pastels. Busier patterns help hide signs of aging.

  • Water chemistry: Poor chemical balances that allow scaling, etching or staining will degrade the finish much quicker.

With proper installation, care and maintenance, most pool surfaces should last 5-7 years on average before needing to be redone. Heavier use pools may need refreshing every 3-4 years. Speak to a pool pro about maximizing the lifespan of your new pool color.

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While it is possible to change the color of an existing gunite pool, it requires a significant investment of time, money, and effort. The process involves sandblasting off the old plaster surface, patching and repairing the gunite shell, and re-plastering the entire pool with new colored plaster.

Even when done properly by experienced professionals, there is no guarantee the new color will last as long or look as flawless as the original plaster job. Therefore, it is usually more practical to live with the existing pool color or plan for a complete overhaul when the time comes for replastering.

Unless a pool owner has ample resources and a strong desire for a color change, keeping maintenance up on their gunite pool and appreciating its current aesthetic may be the wisest approach.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is pool coloring safe?

No, a gunite pool cannot be converted to a vinyl liner pool. Gunite pools are constructed with reinforced concrete and require specialized materials and techniques for installation. Vinyl liners, on the other hand, are installed using an existing pool shell that is retrofitted with the liner. Therefore, it is not possible to convert a gunite pool into a vinyl-liner pool without completely demolishing and replacing the existing structure.

2. Can a gunite pool be painted?

Yes, a gunite pool can be painted. Painting a gunite pool involves the same process used to paint concrete – etching, cleaning, and applying epoxy paint. The type of pool paint and number of layers needed will vary depending on the age and condition of your pool. If you decide to go ahead with painting your gunite pool, it is important to use a professional that has experience in doing this job correctly. Doing it wrong can result in damage to your pool or even worse, a complete failure of the new paint job. With proper preparation and application techniques however, you can successfully change the color of your gunite swimming pool and enjoy its fresh look for many years!

3. What makes a gunite pool blue?

A gunite pool is blue because the mixture of sand, cement and water that makes up the gunite shell reflects a bluish hue. The blue color of a gunite pool can be further enhanced by adding colored aggregates, such as quartz or glass beads, to the mix. Additionally, painting or staining the gunite shell after installation may also produce a deeper blue hue in the finished product.

4. Why does the pool surface fade?

The fading of a pool surface can occur due to a variety of factors, including exposure to sunlight, water chemistry imbalances, and the quality of pool materials used. Sunlight and UV rays can gradually break down the surface materials and cause fading over time. Maintaining proper water chemistry, such as pH levels and chlorine concentrations, is essential to prevent chemical reactions that can accelerate fading. Additionally, using high-quality pool surface materials and regular maintenance can help extend the lifespan of your pool’s surface and reduce fading.

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Written By Scott Keller

Scott Keller is an experienced pool industry professional with over 20 years of expertise in gunite pool design, construction, and maintenance.

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